Just when you thought a natural gas like helium was unlimited and would last forever we're finding today that it's getting tougher and tougher to get the stuff.

I was blissfully unaware we as a planet were running low on helium.

Then I saw CBS 2 in Chicago quoting Party City CEO James Harrison:

The helium shortage has 'negatively impacted our latex and metallic balloon categories.'

Say what? The helium shortage? How short are we?

Gasworld.com:

Around 75% of all the helium consumed around the world is produced at three locations – Ras Laffan Industrial city in Qatar, ExxonMobil in Wyoming, US, and the BLM-operated US Federal Helium Reserve in Amarillo, Texas (US).

Worse yet, the helium reserve in Texas is being "completely depleted." In case you were wondering, helium is used in more than just balloons:

USA Today:

Helium also is used in space flight to pressurize the fuel tanks of liquid-fueled rockets, in satellite instruments, in aerospace for supersonic wind tunnels and even combined with oxygen to create nitrogen-free atmospheres for deep sea divers.

That's not even counting how dependent the medical field is to helium.

So to top it all off, it now appears that Party City is feeling the brunt of the worldwide helium shortage. I've noticed it too, but I guess I never put one and one together.

Not so long ago helium tanks and balloons were pretty cheap. Now the cost has risen past a point where consumers are less willing to pay for a disposable product.

That leaves Party City in a bad spot. They announced today that they would close 45 of their stores, nothing specific yet, so as of right now Party City in Rockford will remain open.

However, the realistic future of balloon specific stores like Party City is, erm, uh, up in the air.

Sweet Lenny is the brand manager of 97ZOK, Q98.5, and Operations Manager for Townsquare Media Rockford. Catch him afternoons 3 to 7 on 97ZOK. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and like his page on Facebook.